How Television Has Influenced American Society: An Analysis Of Media & Technology Research Paper Sample

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Media, Television, Influence, Violence, Teenagers, Youth, Society, Internet

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/04

Obviously, television has had a sustaining influence on American society, in particularly wielding an enticement towards the behavior and thought processes of youth. The influence of television upon American society has been so pervasive, and deeply felt, that it is difficult to know exactly where to start. Nevertheless, it is no secret that television as communication media has in many ways become an extension of all the digital media technology. What is meant by that? In other words, television’s power to influence has been reinforced by the integration with other technologies, such as: (a) the use of mobile handheld devices, (b) Internet access, and (c) social media access/interaction. One might say, considering all the available technology and their convergence with television that TV is now on steroids – so to speak – perpetrating an exponential influence in every sphere. Researcher Georgeta Drulâ agrees, stating that television shares multiple platforms (47). Since the topic leaves much room for quite broad analysis and approach, the following thesis statement helps to narrow the discussion. Television has influenced American society’s thinking and behavior in several ways, especially because it has expanded its outcrop of communication to connect with all digital media.
Television has influenced society in terms of curriculum for educational purposes. Public television has provided a plethora of broadcast programming that assists learning, for all levels. However, the way that modern television has been a reinforcement, or integration, with other media technology has made its ‘messages’ and ‘suggestive programming’ more intense. Youth are very susceptible to the messages of violence, and explicit sexuality. For example, fifty years ago music-video format and variants of social lifestyles (such as homosexuality) would not have ever dared to air in television programming. This is not to condemn those who may choose alternative gender lifestyles, but to help describe how television has become an even more powerful tool of influence in the era in which we live. For example, a U.S. Congressional government report on violence in television and video games recently stated “federal agencies have also reached a similar conclusion” about “violent television programming and its impact on children” (“Committee Report 113th Congress on Violent Content Research”). Their report goes on to note that a huge number of public citizens are concerned, including parents, educators, and health professionals as well. In other words, this negative side of television’s influence is especially unhealthy for the young minds of children.
Some of the fears expressed and mirrored in the government report worried that television’s influence contributes to children’s aggressive behavior. While it is true that all children may not ‘act-out’ in a copycat fashion after watching TV, the report has legitimate concerns and according to research findings, tells “exposure to violent media can increase not only aggressive behavior in a variety of forms, but also aggressive thoughts, aggressive feelings, psychological arousal, and decrease prosocial behavior” (“Committee Report 113th Congress on Violent Content Research”). Also, many feel that television’s influence on American society has desensitized people to acts of brutality, cruelty, and violence. By virtue of such influence, television has influenced America’s society in the way that people think. The Internet and access to widespread use of mobile devices has put television’s availability into the hands of the masses as never before.
When you think about it, the access to YouTube, Facebook, and other social media television has merged into today’s technology in potent way of increasing its influence more than ever before. Simon Baron-Cohen, a psychologist from Cambridge University was surprised to find that he had sent “approximately 18,250 emails a year” since the 1990s, and while yes, it is a convenient way to keep in touch with loved ones – it is also an “addictive” form of high-tech media communications (“2010: How Internet Changing the Way You Think”). People spend thousands of hours on the Internet, and email, which can both converge by linking television programming through their respective channels of communication. See how it works? Once again, television influences have done a great deal of positive good, in terms of the delivery of educational format and relevant news which may be of particular use in disaster situations. We must keep in mind that television also interacts with ‘tweets’ (from Twitter) when eliciting opinions from viewers, or in the case of breaking newsfeeds when a Twitter-user can relay real-time messages on the situation.
The most negative aspect of how television has influenced American society deals with the aspects of violence. Everyone remembers the horrific crimes of youth that occurred in Columbine at the high school, when mass murders were sadly committed. According to several developmental researchers, Dill et al. television as “entertainment violence, especially video games and music” has fueled a ton of debate and conversation about how viewing violence shapes the behavior of kids (114). In its most extreme forms of negative influence, television can inspire youth to commit homicide and pave the road for a lifestyle of criminal behavior beginning with juvenile offenses. The researchers also suggest that violence towards others is not always the fallout, for extreme cases of being under the influence of television, but sometime youth turn the anger in on themselves and tragically commit suicide.
In a way, if you think about it, television is constantly sending an agenda of how we should look, smell, feel, and act. In other words, for example, television gives strong signals and messages to young women. Television’s influence dictates how the ‘cool’ women should look sexy at all times, be as thin as frightfully and unrealistically possible, while desiring to be popular and accepted by everyone. The reality is that not all girls want to look like toothpicks all their lives, or want to act like insecure and fluffy toy poodles – lapping up to feed off the desires of others. Actually, poodles are very intelligent for dogs, but we are humans. In other words, television’s influence in American society has hit a hard influence upon shaping the standards and attitudes of young women. In her amazing and excellent research on how television advertising kills the self-esteem of young women, by portrayal of negative images, Jean Kilbourne created an internationally acclaimed series called Killing Us Softly. The series is a must for every serious human being on Planet Earth. In it, she discusses how advertisers send messages to girls and women that undermines them, and can lead to eating disorders, and “gender violence” (“Killing Us Softly 4”). Television, a powerful communication media format, provides an endless parade of these messages. One can easily see how television has carved out deep influences in the minds of Americans.
While it is true that much of television’s influence on American society is negative, in terms of offering impossible standards for people, and assaulting our minds with violence, we must remember that the medium can provide useful content that is beneficial. Education was mentioned as an example of this. The most disturbing and negative impact television has had involves the youth. Part of the recommended solution for the negative portrayals that influence the young in perpetrating violence, is to take lessons from countries that have learned how to better cope with television’s negative influence. In observing cases from Finland, it was learned that peer-support is important and especially when high-levels of respect are in the mix. Hopefully, people may begin to increasingly realize that television as a tool of technology can be a force for negative influence or positive outcomes. Perhaps self-regulation and discipline are useful guides, as well.

Works Cited

Baron-Cohen, Simon. “2010: How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?”
Edge – to arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves, n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.
Dill, Karen E. et al. “Recurrent Issues in Efforts to Prevent Homicidal Youth Violence In Schools: Expert Opinions.” New Directions for Youth Development 2011.129 (2011): 113-128. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.
Drulâ, Georgeta. “Media Convergence and Mobile Technology.” Journal of Media Research 7.3
(2014): 47-71. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.
“Killing Us Softly 4.” Media Education Foundation, n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.
United States. Cong. Senate. Committee Report on Violent Content Research Act of 2013.
113th Congress (2013-2014) Hearing on Violent Content. 113th Cong., Washington: GPO,
2014. Print. *Link here {}

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